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Review: Best of Buffalo 2011 compilation

Review: Best of Buffalo 2011 compilation

With all the talented artists inhabiting Buffalo’s burgeoning music scene, putting all the best on one CD would be an impossible tasks. Still, Vergetone Records has done an admirable job of compiling some of the Queen City’s most talented artists on the new Best of Buffalo 2011 compilation album. The album features 10 songs by 10 artists in several genres ranging from pop to rap-rock, to funk-metal. The album serves as a reminder of the wide variety of musical styles that our represented in Buffalo.

It begins with ”Scenes Surrounding”, a seven-minute number by Funktional Flow which starts out mellow, and gradually builds up momentum before breaking back down again. It’s a strong, relaxing tune by one of buffalo’s stronger jam bands. Also embodying the jam band style are Steel Keys & Brass, whose song “One Two Three” closes the album. While both songs are solid, a slight edge would be given to Steel Keys & Brass, who establish an irresistible groove, as well as an impossibly catchy chorus. The track’s 6:25 length flies right by.

Of course, not all the songs here are from jam bands. Indeed, as the album progresses, its diversity proves to be the strongest point. We get the killer funk-rock of Autopunch, who’s driving number “Tom’s Song” recalls the intense grooviness of the Red Hot Chili peppers circa Mother’s Milk. Equally intriguing is “Anthem” by Super Killer Robots, which combines the angry, political lyrics you’d expect from, say, Rage Against The Machine with minimalist instrumentation. The juxtaposition of styles gives the track unique feel, and it just might the best tune here.

Fans of the garage rock revival of the early 2000s will also find a lot to enjoy here. The album’s shortest track is The Etchings’ “Bringing Home The Blues,” which lasts less than 90 seconds. It’s a brief, succinct number that wouldn’t feel out of place on an early White Stripes album (think “Little Room,” but less annoying).  Additionally, the Viva Noir’s pleasure combines the fuzz guitar of Is This It-era Strokes with the keyboards of Angles-era Strokes. Finally, there is Birds in Mines’ scorcher “Asbestos For The Rest Of Us” which brings the sinister edge of 1970s post-punk. It would fit in fine somewhere between Suicide and Wire.

It would be hard to name any truly weak tracks on this album, but certainly, some are stronger than others. The Corrections’ “Easy” is a little too dull to be especially entertaining. It’s reminiscent of 1990s alt-pop bands like Better Than Ezra or Toad the Wet Sprocket, but lacks the catchy hooks that gave those bands radio hits. Nelson Starr & the Benjamins’ “The One (Wishing You Were Here)” is a song that this reviewer didn’t know what to make of. It could be looked at as an emotionally resonant power ballad, and potentially a standout track, but it was too reminiscent of Hoobastank’s insufferable 2004 hit “The Reason” to be fully recommendable.

Even if not all oof the tracks are on an equal plane, this is still a very strong compilation. Anyone with a passing interest in local music should check it out. It will give listeners a good idea of what is going on with Buffalo’s music scene, and it’ll probably give them a few new favorite bands too. —john hugar

Click here to preview and purchase the album